In October the Dota Underlords community is anticipating the biggest update the game has seen so far and the final milestone towards the official launch of the game. In this article, we’ll mention what’s coming and make educated guesses about the details for those interested!
In the first half of October (according to their blog post, but still bear in mind we’re talking about Valve time) we expect the following big new features and content:
We’ll start with the new heroes because here our speculations can be a bit more fact-based for two reasons:
First, we know what the heroes and their abilities do from their Dota 2 version and it’s possible to assume how they’ll work in Underlords. Second, members of the community were able to data-mine 19 heroes from the game files, so the first batch of six is very likely to come from this pile.
Below you'll find our thoughts about all 19 heroes that were data-mined. The hero icons are clickable and reveal the information (below) once clicked:
Chen: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Intelligence; Support/Healer
His most iconic abilities are his mass (global) heal and his ability to control neutral units. Either one is a viable ult candidate for Underlords, but since controlling creeps from the Loot rounds is rather unlikely, it might be the case that he takes control of an enemy hero for a short duration. Either way, we expect him to be a powerful end-game unit. In terms of Alliances, since he is the “Holy Knight” lore-wise it’s very likely that he will be a member of the Knights Alliance, most likely a Human, and possibly the Ace unit of Knights.
Clinkz: In Dota 2 -
He is a ranged damage-dealer in Dota iconic for his ability to turn invisible, move at high speed, and deal a lot of attack DPS with his high-attack speed from Strafe and bonus damage from Searing Arrows. He is most likely to be Heartless (possibly but less likely – Elusive). Since he’s a ranged unit and deals damage with attacks, he fits the Hunters Alliance best. If they decide to make him the Hunters Ace, they might even go for his current ultimate in Dota 2 – Searing Army (spawns a line of Skeleton Arches, each shooting Searing Arrows).
Dark Seer: In Dota
2 - Melee/Intelligence; Utility/Team-fighter
His most iconic ability is Vacuum – he’s able to suck in enemy heroes towards the center of an AoE, making awesome team-fight combos possible in Dota (Vacuum + a powerful AoE ability). In Underlrods, this might be implemented in a way in which he uses his Vacuum just before an ally with an AoE spell is about to cast it, but of course, it’s possible that Valve decide not to go in this route for the sake of it being too powerful in the late game in Underlords. He might just get his Ion Shell – a buff to a friendly unit dealing gradual damage to nearby enemies, but personally, I think this is a bit less exciting. In terms of Alliances, Dark Seer is not obvious at all. He could be a member of one of the new Alliances (a “Void/Veil/other-side” based one for heroes like Dark Seer, Faceless Void, Spectre, etc.), or he might e.g. be the Ace unit for Primordial.
Dazzle: In Dota 2 -
Dazzle has two iconic abilities – a chain-heal (Shadow Wave) and the ability to make an ally unkillable for 5 seconds (Shallow Grave, like Helm of the Undying, but with the possibility to heal the target so that it survives at the end of the duration). In Auto Chess, Dazzle was a Troll/Priest with the Shallow Grave ability. It’s fairly likely that he’ll be a Troll as well in Underlords because the Troll Alliance is in dire need of a 5th member that would make finding the full (4) Troll bonus much more viable.
Earthshaker: In Dota 2 -
He’s most iconic ability is the team-fight ultimate Echo Slam that stuns in an AoE and deals more damage based on how many enemy units are in the AoE (thanks to echoes coming out of the enemy units). This sounds quite broken in the Dota Underlords setting (unless the AoE is small, in which case it would be quite underwhelming), so we think it’s more likely that he gets his 2nd iconic ability, Fissure: another AoE stun in a line which creates a physical barrier that units cannot walk over. In terms of a “profession” Alliance, ES fits the archetype of another AoE control Warrior, but since there’s plenty of them (Tide, Kunkka, Axe), we think it’s more likely that he’ll be a member of one of the new Alliances. In terms of “species”, he might be the 5th Brawny hero, making it easier to get the (4) Brawny bonus.
Pangolier: In Dota 2 - Melee/Agility;
Pango’s most iconic skill by far is his ultimate, Rolling Thunder, which allows him to become magic immune, bounce from physical barriers, and knock-back/stun enemies when he comes into contact with them. This is a very powerful skill in team fights and as a result – the Dota Underlords setting, so if he gets it he’s most likely going to be a 4 or 5 cost unit. That said, it’s possible that the developers go in another direction with him – e.g. his Swashbuckle skill
Riki: In Dota 2 - Melee/Agility;
Riki’s one of the heroes whose profession is pretty much set in stone – he’s almost certainly going to be an Assassin. He’s best known in Dota for his permanent invisibility and the ability to deal a lot of damage when attacking enemies from behind. He also has an AoE utility spell (Smoke of Deceit: silence and miss chance in an AoE) and an AoE damage spell (his ultimate, Tricks of the Trade, which makes him disappear and attack all enemies in an AoE). These two AoE abilities might make him a decent candidate to be the Ace for Assassins.
Spectre: In Dota 2 - Melee/Agility;
Spect is arguably the hardest carry in Dota and her most iconic abilities are Haunt (spawns illusions of herself on all enemy heroes and enables her to travel to whichever one she chooses) and Dispersion – a passive skill that makes her tankier and allows her to deal back a percentage of the damage she receives in an AoE. Because of her ultimate-hard-carry reputation in Dota, it’s fairly likely that she will be a high-cost unit in Underlords. While her Alliances are hard to speculate, she fits well the theme of the new Void/Veil/other-side Alliance that we’re speculating will come out with the Big Update.
Rubick: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Intelligence;
Rubick’s most iconic skill by far is his ability to steal the spells that enemy heroes cast near him, which he’ll most certainly bring to Underlords. This is an interesting concept, but obviously, some abilities are much more impactful than others. The problem with this is that in Dota you have control of the hero and can choose what to steal and cast, while in Underlords you have to rely on the AI to make this choice. Nonetheless, we’re quite excited to see how he turns out. In terms of Alliances, his “species” is hard to figure out (might be a member of one of the new ones), but his “profession” is almost certainly going to be Mage – apteral, he is the Grand Magus.
Storm: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Intelligence;
Storm is a unique hero in his ability to use his mana to fly across the Dota 2 map without CD, which makes him a very mobile spell caster with decent carry potential. He also spawns images of himself (Remnants) that explode and deal some magic damage. We think Storm will be the first member of one of the new Alliances which will be centered on the elemental “spirits” theme in Dota 2, which makes us believe we will be a Spirit/Mage.
Sven: In Dota 2 - Melee/Strength;
Sven, the Rogue Knight, is best known in Dota for his ability to cleave (deal damage to nearby enemies with each attack similarly to Battle Fury) and deal extremely high physical damage thanks to his God’s Strength ultimate. In Auto Chess, he is the 5-cost Demon and buffs the damage of other Demons when he casts his ult, but we doubt Valve will go in the same direction as Drodo because it doesn’t fit the Dota lore. In the lore he is half Meranth (Scaled) half Human, so he is likely to take one of those two (or both) Alliances in Underlords. He’s likely to be a 3-5 cost carry unit, either a Knight or a Warrior.
Undying: In Dota 2 - Melee/Strength;
Undying’s most iconic ability is actually already in the game in the form of an item – Tombstone. This means he’ll get one of his other spells – Decay, a low CD AoE ability that allows him to steal the strength (most likely HP in Underlords) of his targets, or his ultimate – Flesh Golem, which transforms him and makes him tankier while amplifying the damage nearby enemies receive. He fits the Heartless Alliance the most lore-wise provided he’s essentially a zombie, but his profession is less clear – it seems he fits Warlock best, but Valve might be hesitant to introduce a 2nd Heartless Warlock for the reason that it makes it too easy to get the (2) Heartless (2) Warlock bonus in any comp.
Venge: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Agility;
Her most iconic skill is the ability to swap places with any hero. This is useful in many occasions in Dota, but it’s less clear how it would work in Underlords. E.g. she might be coded to swap her place with an ally when it falls to 30% HP, thus saving it from death. This, however, could be problematic if she swaps a frontline tank out of the frontline. Her Alliances are less clear and it doesn’t seem she fits naturally into any of the existing ones, which makes us think she might be a member of one of the new ones.
Weaver: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Agility;
Weaver is best known for his ability to become invisible and move very fast for a short duration (Shukuchi), and even more importantly – to “turn back time” and give himself the HP and position on the map that he had 5 seconds ago (Time Lapse). He fits well the Elusive, Hunter, or Assassin Alliances, but he might also be a member of one of the new Alliances, e.g. an “insect” based on for Weaver, Nyx, or even Sand King.
Zeus: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Intelligence; Magic Damage Dealer
Zeus’ iconic ability is Thundergod’s Wrath, which deals magic damage to all enemy heroes regardless of their location. He already exists in Auto Chess as a 5-cost God/Mage and the interesting thing about him in AC is that he also deals player damage at the end of the round. Gods in Auto Chess reduce the cooldowns of your army, but at the same time, it needs to be the only active “species” bonus in order to work. These are interesting concepts we don’t currently have in Underlords and it’s unclear whether the devs want to go in this direction, so we’re pretty skeptical he’ll do the same in Underlrods. That said, he’s still most likely going to be a high-cost Mage with the Tundergod’s Wrath nuke.
Skywrath: In Dota 2 - Ranged/Intelligence;
Support/Magic Damage Dealer
Skywrath Mage is best known for casting extremely short-CD slow-moving projectiles (Arcane Bolts) that deal high magic damage based on his intelligence. He’s fairly likely to inherit this ability in Underlords, but of course, it will interact with something else rather than his Intelligence (e.g. each consecutive Bolt could deal more damage, etc.). Since he’s full name is Skywrath Mage, it’s quite unlikely that he wouldn’t be a Mage. Lore-wise, he belongs to the same race/species as Vengeful Spirit.
Elder Titan: In Dota 2 - Melee/Strength;
Elder Titan has a plethora of strong AoE abilities. Arguably, the most interesting concept for Underlords would be Astra Spirit + Echo Stomp combination, which would allow him to disable enemies far away from him (e.g. specifically the enemy backline) unlike most current AoE disables in Underlords. Astral Spirit also has the benefit of increasing his damage once it returns to him based on the number of enemy heroes it affected. Like Earthshaker, he fits the AoE control Warrior archetype, but since we already have multiple such heroes, we are a bit doubtful this would be the case.
Void Spirit: Still not in Dota 2
The hero is still not in Dota so it’s very hard to speculate what he would do. What we know about him is that he is one of the “spirit” brothers, which makes him a candidate for the new “spirit” Alliance we’re speculating will come with the update. That said, he is unlikely to come out in Underlords before he comes out in Dota, so he’s less likely to make it for the Big Update and more likely to come for the official out-of-beta launch.
Snapfire: Still not in Dota 2
Another hero that’s not in Dota yet. That said, we know that she’s related to Timbersaw lore-wise and that she has a mount, which makes it fairly likely that she will be a Scrappy Knight. This combination is rather strange because both Alliances have a defensive bonus, but with Luna in mind (Elusive/Knight) it’s not impossible. Like Void Spirit, she probably won’t come out in Underlords before she comes out in Dota, which makes it unlikely she’ll come with the Big Update.
Here we are entirely in the realm of speculation, but the fact that the Underlords Alliances are at least a bit consistent with the Dota lore and general hero themes make it possible to make interesting guesses.
The elemental spirits in Dota 2 (Earth Spirit, Storm Spirit, Ember Spirit, now Void Spirit) are quite obviously linked to each-other lore-wise and it would be a huge missed opportunity if Dota Underlords doesn’t use this to make a new interesting Alliance. What it would do is entirely up for debate, but we would love to see another synergy that works similarly to the Dragons Alliance bonus – instead of giving the same buff/debuff to all heroes, it might provide each individual hero with hero-specific bonuses.
Another recurring theme in the Dota lore is “alternate dimension” realms like the Void where heroes like Outworld Devourer and Enigma come from. This also makes it logical to link them together. Since these heroes come from different realms and belong to different “races/species”, it’s more likely that this Alliance would be a new “profession”. What it does is impossible to guess, but an additional “utility” alliance (like Warlocks) might be more fitting than a pure offensive/defensive Alliance.
A way to play together with a friend against other duos. We can only speculate what form this cooperation is going to take, but whatever the way they implement it, this is an extremely important feature. It gives Underlords a social gameplay experience – crucial for a multiplayer title for all of us who like playing with friends.
In other Auto Battlers, the standard way to incorporate a coop mode is for both players to have their own boards, but to share a common bench and HP. This incentivizes going for two different builds (so that you and your teammate don’t look for the same units) which is interesting, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Valve goes a step further to make gameplay experience even more cooperative (i.e. even share the same board, etc.).
Moreover, this will add a new layer of strategy as the metagame for playing solo and duos is likely to be different, which will make the game fresh:
The namesake Underlords are also a huge feature that is likely to refresh the metagame a great deal. Yet, unlike Duos which can only be a good thing, the playable Underlords are a bit more worrying:
The primary speculation is that they would give you some kind of global bonuses. The worry is that these bonuses will make some strategies (Underlords builds) stronger with specific Underlords, which will take away from the freedom each player has and incentivize them to force specific comps.
This is not a good game direction to go in – Auto Battlers are most fun when you can use your creativity to win with innovative builds depending on what the game is giving you.
That said, the fact that the playable Underlords have been “in development” for such a long period of time makes us think that the devs have been experimenting with many different concepts and if they are ready to ship two Underlords now, they should be happy with what they have.
There are a few guesses we have to what they would actually do:
“Not long after” the big update we’ll see a final update along with the official out-of-beta launch of Dota Underlords. The big feature that will come with it (alongside additional content, etc.) is City Crawl.
The name makes an obvious connection Dota 2’s Cavern Crawl that was available with the latest Dota Battle Pass, so we expect the City Crawl feature to share the same concept.
You win games with specific Alliances/Heroes/etc. and make your way on the map of White Spire. At the edges of the map (or at specific locations), there are different cosmetic rewards. While in the Dota 2 version the Crawl is divided into three sections based on the Support/Carry/Utility archetypes, the White Spire sections might be divided into the 4 playable Underlords incentivizing a different playstyle in that way.